UW-La Crosse graduate student leads study on masks and exercise

UWL's Grace Vogt takes passion for health and wellness and applies it to study, helping answer people's concerns on masks

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A group of college students is looking at people’s concerns when it comes to masks and exercise. They are studying how masks affect older people during moments when they’re most active.

It’s hard to believe how long it’s been since we began covering our faces with something most agree is not ideal.

“Whoever thought this was gonna drag out 18 months?” said Kim Radtke, executive director of clinical exercise physiology at UW-La Crosse. “I’d prefer not to wear a mask, but it is what it is.”

Radtke and graduate student Grace Vogt are looking into how older people perform wearing a mask during exercise.

“It’s gonna be 30 minutes of self-paced exercise. It’s in community-dwelling older adults,” Vogt said. “It’s 50 to 90-year-olds.”

They collect data based on people’s breathing and heart rate during their exercise routine.

“You want to follow evidence-based medicine,” Radtke said. “We’re doing the research. It’s not a subjective opinion it’s based on facts.”

Vogt studies people’s active performance with questions in mind.

“Studies have shown that there is an increased shortness of breath,” Vogt said, “So, why is that?

“If there’s a physiological reason or if it’s a lot more mental and people just feel that way?”

Vogt lives an active lifestyle herself. She ran Cross Country at UW-Eau Claire. She definitely believes in runner’s high.

“Oh, hundred percent yes,” Vogt said. “That feeling you get after is pretty good.”

She said exercise and masks can coexist with the correct knowledge.

“So that you can adjust your training or know this is how I’m gonna feel when I’m exercising so you’re not surprised,” Vogt said.

Vogt continues her pursuit toward her career. She dreams of helping patients with heart problems form healthier habits, so they don’t come back through the hospital doors. She wants to make a difference in people’s health as a future young professional.

“I definitely hope so,” Vogt said.

Perhaps Vogt already is as a student taking her knowledge beyond the classroom. They plan to publish their research in a journal in March of next year. Vogt said a surgical mask is the best mask to use while exercising.

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